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Sourced from The National Post, 18 Jun 2012, Link <a href="http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/06/19/counterpoint-the-conservative-record-on-strengthening-canadas-military/">Here</a>
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Counterpoint: The Conservative record on strengthening Canada’s military
Peter MacKay, Julian Fantino and Steven Blaney,
Jun 19, 2012 – 7:00 AM ET |
Last Updated: Jun 18, 2012 5:38 PM ET
We wish to respond to Liberal MP <a href="http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/06/10/marc-garneau-supporting-the-armed-forces/">Marc Garneau’s recent contribution</a> to your newspaper titled “Supporting the Armed Forces” (June 8 ). In his article, Mr. Garneau attempts to extol the virtues of the Liberal party’s support for the Canadian Armed Forces. But Mr. Garneau’s commentary fails to present facts that support his claims.
It is telling that Mr. Garneau himself identifies the Liberals as having made the willful decision to move forward with “sustained significant cutbacks” in support provided for our brave men and women in uniform. This confession undermines his argument. As he knows, while in power, the Liberal government slashed the budget of our Canadian Armed Forces by over 20%.
This negligence by the previous Liberal government was perhaps best reflected by their decision to send our troops into Afghanistan wearing green uniforms and black boots in a desert setting. It is simply unbelievable that a government would approach the management of our military with such irresponsible and careless abandon.
Taxpayers recall their decision to suffer a $1-billion penalty to walk away from the replacement of our Air Force’s search and rescue helicopters, and providing our Navy with defective submarines.
We welcome Mr. Garneau’s contrast of the Liberals’ demonstrated failure to support our troops, with our historic action to restore the Canadian Armed Forces with the support they need.
When our government was elected in 2006, we embarked on a historic plan to restore and strengthen the resources we provide our troops, in order for them to be successful in their missions at home and abroad. Our government has increased our investment in our bravest Canadians by 27% — or over $5-billion — to unprecedented levels to ensure they have the tools necessary to conduct their missions safely and effectively.
Our government’s historic action to deliver our brave men and women in uniform with new, modern equipment is creating and supporting thousands of jobs across our country. Our efforts have already resulted in the delivery of new transport and tactical aircraft that have been effective in our Royal Canadian Air Force’s successful missions in Afghanistan, Libya and various search and rescue missions.
These investments also include the modernization of our Canadian Army’s Light Armoured Vehicle III fleet, delivery of new Leopard II tanks and Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicles. Canadians are also acquainted with our unprecedented action to restore and strengthen the Royal Canadian Navy, and our decision to build our new ships in Canada.
While much has been accomplished in six years, we know there is more to be done. One of our priorities is our commitment to replacing our pilots’ CF-18 aircraft. Our pilots have demonstrated outstanding service to our country with these aging aircraft. While Mr. Garneau writes that he will not “mention the CF-18 replacement program,” we have no such reservations.
Our government has not signed any contracts for the purchase of replacement aircraft. We have been clear that we have set a budget and we will work within that budget. A new secretariat has been established to play the lead co-ordinating role as the government moves to make a decision on replacing the CF-18s.
Prior to Treasury Board approval, the treasury board secretariat will first commission an independent review of the Department of National Defence’s acquisition and sustainment estimates — which will be made public. Ultimately, we will provide the Canadian Armed Forces with the aircraft they need to do the jobs we ask of them.
Moreover, our investments have included unprecedented commitments to care for our troops once they leave the military. That is why we doubled the amount of operational stress injury clinics for our veterans, and are investing $189-million over the next five years to strengthen the New Veterans Charter to help our most ill and injured veterans receive the care and support they need.
We continue to support the Helmets to Hardhats program in Canada, which helps connect our veterans with high paying job opportunities in the construction industry, following their service. But, perhaps most notably, our efforts are resulting in less red tape so that our veterans can access critical services they have asked for hassle-free.
These are important resources that our government has introduced that did not exist before, and demonstrate important progress in these regards. Canadians can trust that our government will continue to stand up for our brave men and women in uniform who sacrifice their own safety for the benefit of the rest of us.
Peter MacKay is minister of national defence. Julian Fantino is associate minister of national defence. Steven Blaney is minister of veterans affairs.
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